Firm, tight six-pack abdominal muscles are not made overnight. However, with discipline and consistency, it is possible to achieve a muscular mid-section in a shortened amount of time. Through a strict diet coupled with regular abdominal workouts, you may begin to see results within weeks. Incorporate 30 minutes of daily aerobic exercise and multiple abdominal exercises for best results.
Carbs, Protein and Fat
Diet plays a large role in the shape of your body and the amount of excess fat present around your abdomen. The experts at McKinley Health Center in Illinois suggest that 45 to 65 percent of your total daily food consumption comes from carbohydrates, 10 to 35 percent from protein and 20 to 35 percent from fat. Carbohydrates fuel your body with energy to carry out tasks and boost your performance in the gym. Complex carbohydrates, such as grains and many vegetables, provide consistent, long-lasting energy. Protein is necessary for building and maintaining muscle in your body. Lean proteins such as fish and poultry are smart choices. Fat is necessary for the absorption of specific vitamins from food. However, you should limit the intake of fats in your diet, especially saturated fats.
Meals and Snacks
A daily menu of healthy foods is essential for sculpting a muscular abdomen. For breakfast, try scrambled egg whites with chopped onion, green peppers and diced tomatoes and reduced-sugar oatmeal. A good lunch consists of lean ground turkey cooked in olive oil, a side of mixed vegetables and a piece of whole-grain toast. For dinner, prepare a salad of mixed greens topped with cucumbers, tomatoes, green peppers, reduced-fat shredded cheese and low-fat salad dressing. Prepare grilled chicken strips or shrimp to toss onto your salad. Have a cup of low-fat frozen yogurt for dessert. Snack on sliced apples, grapes, carrot sticks, low-fat yogurt or celery sticks topped with reduced-fat peanut butter between meals. While you are attempting to balance carbohydrates, protein and fat in your meal plan, remember that reducing your overall calorie intake is necessary for shedding belly fat. Just don’t cut calorie intake too much or you will slow your metabolic rate, or the rate at which your body burns calories. Women should not go below a minimum 1,200 calories per day and men should consume at least 1,800 calories for safe weight loss.
While many abdominal exercises emphasize only one section of the abdominals, leg pulls will strengthen your lower and middle abdominals at the same time. Lie on the floor or on a yoga mat with your hands resting beneath your buttocks with your palms facing the floor. Slowly raise your legs by bending the knees until your calves are parallel with the floor. Bring your knees toward your chest and lift your upper body off the floor to meet your knees. Hold this position for three counts and slowly return to the original position. Perform three sets of 15 repetitions. For a more advanced workout, place a dumbbell between your feet for the duration of this exercise.
Straight Leg Buttock Lifts
Straight leg buttock lifts strengthen your mid-abdominals as well as your lower abdominal muscles. Lie on the floor or an exercise mat with your arms resting at your sides and your palms facing the floor. Keeping your legs straight, raise your legs until the bottoms of your feet are facing the ceiling. Your legs will be at a 90-degree angle with your torso. Keeping your abdominal muscles tight, lift your buttocks off the floor and stretch your legs and feet toward the ceiling. Hold this position for three counts before returning to the original position. Perform three sets of 15 repetitions of this exercise.